Category Archives: Values

Community, Communion, and the Human Side of Communication

Any time two or more people work in tandem, they create a human system.  And that system will be only as effective as the patterns of communication that support it. For communication is the means by which diverse talents can be directed toward a shared goal, the way a collection of individual I’s can be transformed into a cohesive and capable we.

In a very real sense, communication is what makes coherent, collective action possible.

But while communication allows us to express ourselves and gather information, it also builds ties of association and relationship. It draws individuals and groups together into a shared community of thought and discussion, if only for the duration of a conversation.

Communication can be understood, then, as the process of making things common. Linguistically related to “common,” “communion,” and “community,” communication can be viewed as the means by which we make our internal thoughts, beliefs, and perceptions available to those around us for external discussion and action. It is the way we share of ourselves and have access to the experience of others.

This community-building function is of great importance in the workplace. For only to the degree that leaders are willing to enter into “communion” with their employees will they be able to establish effective patterns of association. If they hold themselves above or apart from employees, communication will inevitably falter, for the very foundation on which it rests will be undermined and unsound.

Effective communication, then, depends as much on what leaders feel or don’t feel about their employees, as it does on what they say or don’t say. It depends as much on the values, beliefs, and attitudes they hold as the structures, systems, and approaches they build.

Routine interaction may involve countless utilitarian exchanges. But at the end of the day, communication is a quintessentially human endeavor that involves much more than the surface-level transmission of facts and information.

No matter how large organizations might grow, then, and no matter how remote and removed various parties might seem from each other, communication must always be approached as a matter of one human being connecting with another. Anything less will fail to fully leverage the human potential available and inherent in the system as a whole.

Unity, Discord, and the Reality of Human Nature

If it is in fact true that organizational performance rises with growing levels of agreement, collaboration, reciprocity and shared vision, why do leaders accept significant (and largely avoidable) costs of disunity?  Much has to do with widespread below-the-line beliefs that disunity is just the way things are. “It’s human nature,” clients have again and again… Continue Reading

Appreciation: The Heart of Recognition

When it comes to the role of recognition in the workplace, the knowledge base is clear: we human beings want to be appreciated and valued in the work we do. Recognition, though, is only as good as the spirit that animates it. As a fundamentally above-the-line behavior, recognition can be disingenuous as easily as it… Continue Reading

Crafting Vision, Finding Vision

Given how frequently the word finds its way into discourse in management circles, it is worth considering what vision is and where it actually comes from. What is the genesis of a vibrant and compelling sense of organizational vision? It is not uncommon to hear people speak about creating or crafting vision. Such sentiments are… Continue Reading

Employees, Donkeys, and Getting Things Done

In some ways, motivation is less complicated than one might imagine. Involving people in decisions that impact them, recognizing the value of their contributions, giving them opportunities to assume responsibility in meaningful ways — study after study has shown the importance of factors like these. Yet countless workplaces fail to supply such sources of motivation.… Continue Reading

Who You Are, Not What You Do

Much of what we think of as the business of business takes place externally. Tangible activities like striking deals, formulating plans and launching initiatives fill our days and constitute the prism through which we view and understand our work life. But business authorities, academics, and thinkers have long suggested that the most fertile field for… Continue Reading

Discipline and the Reflective Life

Consider the word “discipline” for a moment.  In one sense it refers to a subject or a course of study. Within the context of the discipline of reflective leadership, the material to be mastered includes the principles of the human knowledge base and our ability to reflect on how our choices and behaviors, as perceived… Continue Reading

Building Blocks of Reflective Leadership – Determination

Building reliable habits of personal reflection is not easy. Like mastering any new skill, learning to hang the mirror involves no small amount of setbacks and failure. We might maintain a sense of objectivity for a time, then lose it at a bad turn of events or sharp verbal jab. We might restrain emotional responses… Continue Reading

Building Blocks of Reflective Leadership – Humility

Few spheres of human activity are more driven by “results” than the world of business. Visible success is the coin of the realm, and confidence, bravado, even self-aggrandizement are pervasive. Humility, then, stands as a somewhat counter-intuitive characteristic of truly outstanding leaders. Humility is certainly one of the more nuanced facets of leadership. In part, this has… Continue Reading

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