It’s a widely acknowledged fact: a mere 7% of our communication is rooted in the words we utter. The true essence of our message often lies in our body language and the nuances of our vocal tones.
When this concept was introduced to you, it was likely framed within the context of your leadership and communication style. It’s a crucial reminder that leaders need to be attuned to the silent messages they send. Yet, it’s easy to overlook that this principle isn’t exclusive to leadership—it’s universal.
True leadership isn’t just about instructing, coaching, or guiding. It’s equally about active listening—tuning in not just with our ears, but with our eyes and heightened emotional intelligence.
Your team is in a constant state of communication, a wellspring of invaluable insights. While they might not always verbalize their thoughts, it’s imperative for leaders to decipher these unspoken cues. By reading between the lines, you gain a deeper understanding of the underlying dynamics in your workplace.
In my years coaching corporate leaders, I have found there are 5 things your team will not tell you…
When you have confused them.
They say no news is good news – but this is not the case when you have just finished giving your team a major update and they have nothing to say!
Teams asking questions are engaged and invested; most often, silence means confusion. But each member of the team feels like they are the only one confused, so they keep quiet.
What you could be doing better.
Even when you ask!
Leaders may request feedback, but they rarely get it. Leaders must be intentional to create an atmosphere of intellectual safety so that their team members feel secure in offering their opinions.
Check out this article for more on intellectual safety and other ways you can foster it.
You can also make it easier for your team to offer feedback by asking about specifics. How did you feel about this situation? What would you do to produce this outcome? These questions de-personalize the feedback, so they will not feel as if they are making value judgments for or against you.
Why they work at your company.
A good leader can take any motive and connect it to the company’s strategic vision and goals. In fact, one mark of excellent leadership is their ability to do just that. Legendary leaders coordinate engaged teams of diverse motivations toward one common end.
But in order to do that, those leaders have to know what drives each team member to their best results – and no one wants to tell their leader that they just come in to collect their paycheck.
When you personally connect with each member of your team, you can uncover their unique motivating factors and draw them into peak performance.
When they are going to quit.
I have seen leaders ask their team members to let them know when they are planning to leave…
And I am not talking about giving notice. I am talking about leaders asking their teams to tell them when they are looking for a job elsewhere.
Tell me: would you tell your leader if you were truly looking to change jobs, and not simply leverage a new job to get a better role in your current company?
Quitting employees are disconnected – they will either return (re-engage) or leave (disengage). Chances are, if they told you they were planning to leave, their treatment at the company would only push them out faster.
What drove them away.
As crucial as it is to pick up on nonverbal cues, this talent is most useful – oddly enough – in exit interviews. In fact, they are a waste of time if you cannot read between the lines of a conversation.
Most of the exit interviews I have been party to have gone as follows…
- The employee makes excuses for their departure that are beyond your control. They are compelling, so you do not feel responsible for their leaving.
- The employee tells you everything that you should have picked up on while they were at your company.
Either way, they consider it is too late to mend the situation, and you are left either none the wiser, or with your head spinning, blindsided by “the truth!”
Step into your best self,
Get My Free Guide: 5 Strategies for Retaining Top Talent
Voluntary turnover it’s an ALARMINGLY preventable problem.
To combat this, I have outlined five leadership strategies that will keep your top performers leaned in and performing.