You have probably heard it said that only 7% of what we communicate is in the words we say! Body language and vocal inflexion make up the vast majority of what we convey.
But when you heard this, it was probably being applied to you, your leadership, and your communication. And yes – we must be mindful of what our nonverbal cues are telling those we lead.
However, we can forget that this rule applies to everyone.
Leading is just as much about listening as it is about teaching, coaching, or redirecting – listening with our ears as well as with our eyes and emotional intelligence.
Your team is always communicating! In fact, they are a treasure trove of important insight. But they will not always use their words to share. As their leader, you must be able to “read between the lines” to understand what is really going on in your workplace.
In my years coaching corporate leaders, I have found there are 5 things your team will not tell you…
1. 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.
2. 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 blog post 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.
3. 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.
4. 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.
5. 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!”
What is your team telling you without telling you? Are you reading them loud and clear, or do you think you may find yourself blindsided one day?
If you are not sure how you stand with your team, let me offer you the chance to find out…
On 2nd of June at 4 PM CET, I will be hosting a free training session designed to help you develop your leadership skills. My goal is to discuss some of the things I have observed in my leadership coaching experience to save you some time, money, and frustration!
I hope I’ll see you there – I would love to make your leadership journey a little easier (or a lot!).
That’s all for now.
Until next time,
Want More Articles Like this Straight Into Your Inbox?
Subscribe to Leadership for the Now email series and get leadership tips, strategies and opportunities in your inbox every Friday.