“What’s the problem?”
Effective communication is a key element in any leadership development effort. Currently the Vice President of Rules and Competitions for the PGA TOUR, Carlton “Slugger” White is not only one of the most recognizable figures in golf. He is also viewed as one of the top referees in the world. Prior to joining the rules staff with the PGA TOUR, Slugger played on the PGA TOUR from 1976 to 1979. Slugger was interviewed by Golf Digest for their July 2019 edition. One of the many aspects of Slugger’s story that I enjoyed was his style. His “bedside manner,” as he calls it, is very important. A Rules Official at any major sporting event is called upon to weigh in with a ruling in some tense situations. When Slugger approaches a rules scenario, his first words are “How can I help?” It’s not “What do you need?” or “What’s the problem?”
“How can I help?”
“How can I help?” illustrates that leadership behaviors are more relationship-based and future focused. “What do you need?” or “What’s the problem?” are adversarial stances that focus on the past. The best leaders see both the wide and the long view. They know how to connect to people and to the broader organizational vision. They have the skills, confidence, and credibility to inspire people to do the right thing, rather than demand compliance with their orders. People are looking for opportunities to grow in their role and apply their talents. They are looking to their leaders, not just for direction on tasks, but for connection, example and guidance. Abilities like building solid relationships, being a good communicator and conflict management all require Emotional Intelligence skills that can be learned, but also strengthened over time.
Three steps to enhance your leadership development.
- Reach out and find common ground to build authentic relationships. Authenticity is the key. Authentic leadership requires that one’s actions and words align which in turn develops credibility and trust. The best leaders can balance their identity while still effectively managing and influencing. Humanizing engagement can position a leader to inspire their team for innovation and breakthrough.
- Focus on the big picture, not just the deliverables. Good leaders don’t “dump” their work on people. They delegate in a way that provides an opportunity for others to add value. That’s where innovation happens. If you’ve done your hiring right, your employees know how to do their jobs and expect you to need them.
- Develop social antennae. Effective leaders are not just concerned about delivering clear, articulate messages. They also listen carefully. They watch how messages are received. Active listening and communicating to get buy-in are more effective in the long run than orders or demands. Be present and listen.