There is no higher calling than to become fully you. There is no greater source of differentiation, power, and peace than comfort with our own individuality. Communicating from that place is the greatest gift we can give each other and ourselves. We communicate to connect. But, what happens if the communicator isn’t connected to himself and his ideas? Well, we don’t connect with data, and actors play characters, but characters aren’t the real thing.
Humans develop in relationship to each other. The more connected we are to ourselves, the more available we can be to others. The more vulnerable we allow ourselves to be, the more powerful we become because we are getting closer to bringing all of ourselves to the relationship. But only when we choose to connect.
The world of managed organizations is an extraordinary platform for developing ourselves and those around us. Leaders have a tremendous opportunity to choose to develop themselves as they develop those around them. Not only is there no conflict of interest between individual and organizational development, the thorough alignment of the growth of the organization and growth of the individual as well as the growth of the “other” (e.g., client, consumer) is the true genius of the free market. Imagine developing products and services based solely on a genuine proposition of “value-added.” What if all sales efforts were similarly and “authentically” focused? What if every business communication started with the question, “What’s in it for the other person?”
Of course, as leaders, we have to connect on purpose. It’s not enough to connect in a vacuum. Business leaders are paid to move businesses forward. That’s the “purpose” of the business and the role of the leader. But if we are going to move the business forward, we need other people to take action. If that’s going to happen, we need to communicate with “radical empathy.” This means that we have to simultaneously “contain” (i.e., acknowledge, understand, manage) our own needs as developing beings, the goals of the organization, and the needs of the people whose efforts determine our success: employees, vendors, etc., and, of course, our customers.
So, every time you talk as a leader, there is an opportunity—a mandate—to stay connected to your own needs and your humanity, to work to meet the needs (objectives, goals, etc.) of the organization, and to meet the needs of the people you talk to. What you say and how you say it falls out of the intersection of all those needs and objectives.
Why all of these connections? Because in the world of managed organizations, to fail to communicate in a way that demonstrates “radical empathy” leaves value (growth, success, development, brand, and money!) on the table. You don’t want value on the table. You want it in your organization.