Radio Silence Is Not a Leadership Strategy

Jun 17
By Guest Post / 3
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This is a guest post by Alli Polin.

Globally, we’re living at a time that the call to action is more, better, faster, NOW!  Leaders are overwhelmed with emails, meetings, conference calls and technology that keeps them connected 24/7 all demanding immediate response and resolution.  Despite the fact that we realize that we want thoughtful solutions, we also want immediate attention and action from leaders.  When there is a pause between our super important message and the leader’s response, we frequently make up stories to fill the void.

Some stories we tell ourselves are:
- My idea was terrible.
- They just don’t care.
- I guess I’m on my own.
- The leader stinks.

In contrast with the stories, here’s a glimpse into the reality of many leaders:
- Sincerely want to support their team and be responsive to customer requests.
- Buried daily under an avalanche of meetings and messages that takes away critical time from working with the team.
- Truly want to take the time to process and think before replying on gut alone.
- Next steps are unclear and they need time to connect with others to figure it out.

How can the gap between the leader’s reality and the desire for constant contact be bridged?  Hint: It takes two-way communication as well as hefty doses of trust and collaboration. Let’s break it down with four must-dos for leaders with great intentions yet struggle to find balance with response time and support.

Quick Replies are Not a Leader’s Enemy

Stuck in meetings all day but you’ve just glanced at an important message in your inbox?  Shoot a quick reply that acknowledges receipt, reflects your desire to give it your due diligence, and a likely turn around time.  The recipient will value the response and it will buy you time until you can give it your full attention.

Action is Good! Don’t Wait for Perfect

If a message you received lead to moving forward and sparked a series of meetings and solutions, you should let people know!  It’s one step further than a “got it, thanks” reply.  Specifically, acknowledge the importance of the message or situation and give a quick and dirty outline of the steps you’re taking as a result.  Don’t forget to loop back once you have clear information and results to share.

Questions are Your Friend

Emails, status reports and voicemails are great to communicate issues and suggestions but sometimes they are not enough to clearly communicate the ins and outs of the situation.  As a leader, if you’re unsure of next steps, ask clarifying questions instead of assuming that you have the full story.  The best solutions are crafted based on knowing all the information, not just one piece of the puzzle.   Don’t be a leader that’s so caught up in crossing things off of the to-do list that you suggest a mediocre band-aid instead of crafting a truly meaningful solution.

Transparency is More than a Buzzword

As a leader, you don’t need to have all the answers, but you do have to maintain a commitment to figuring it out.  If you’re stumped or shocked or just plain confused say so!   If you have no idea what to do next, be transparent.  You are not alone!  Tap into the team to brainstorm and collaborate. Never forget, we are stronger together!

Silence from organizational leaders is too easily misinterpreted as ignored.  Ask questions, solicit input, be transparent and don’t forget to turn on the two-way radio.

What are your favorite strategies for balancing your schedule, desire for strategic solutions and the call for immediate response and action?

About the Author

Alli Polin, CPCC, ACC, is the Founder of Break the Frame.  As a personal leadership coach, consultant and speaker, Alli focuses her work with people and organizations that are ready to break from the status quo, lead and engage with renewed passion and purpose.

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Comments (3)

  1. Dan Forbes

    Hi Alli, Good suggestions. One thing I would recommend is not to reply telling everyone how BUSY you are, as if it’s a bad of courage. People don’t want to hear that. Don’t make it about you, make it always about them.

    June 17, 2013 at 11:47 AM Reply
    • Alli Polin

      Absolutely, Dan! The reply isn’t for us to look important, it’s for the other person to know that they’re important to us.

      June 17, 2013 at 7:59 PM Reply
  2. Blair Glaser

    Alli,
    Thanks for nailing it with this one. I so often hear about how people feel snubbed by their superior’s silence. Even when they know it’s because the person may be busy, the lack of response to important communiques creates frustration and hurt personal feelings. If leaders could follow your simple suggestions it could alleviate so much tension that over time builds into workplace resentment.

    June 17, 2013 at 9:52 PM Reply

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