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The missing leadership link: communication and productivity

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At the risk of being accused as a smart Alec, I wonder if any of the PA’s of the faceless men in the Labor Party thought it a good idea to let their bosses and maybe the PM know about a recent survey that linked productivity to communication.

The thought just happened when I linked the Bob Carr as foreign minister stuff up to the arrival of a note about Halley Bock, the CEO of Fierce, Inc., who speaks next month in Sydney.

Given what we have seen from our leaders lately, the promise that Bock’s words of wisdom would show “how to transform your teams into high-functioning internal think tanks” certainly sounds appealing. And for good measure, if Julia Gillard would like to “foster a culture of candour and collaboration essential to driving results while addressing core issues” then this looks like the pep talk Canberra badly needs.

A survey 1400 executives and educators across multiple industries was conducted by Fierce, Inc., in the USA and the results showed that limited conversation skills and poor communication were key issues explaining poor productivity.

Clearly, there was a communication issue that explained why Julia Gillard’s office was asking Bob Carr to be foreign minister when Stephen Smith thought he had an undertaking from the PM that he would get the gig. This led to a scurry to cover up the mess and just think of the time wasted by all concerned.

In case anyone in Canberra on both sides of the house is interested, the survey found:

·      Diverse points of view improve the decision-making process

·      Cross-functional alignment is critical to program success

·      Relationships are integral to employee engagement and productivity

·      People appreciate candour, but do not see enough of it

·      Success requires productive confrontation, and

·      The biggest challenge in leadership training and development is lack of reinforcement.

So let’s see where Labor’s leaders need some work.

If there was more diversity of views maybe someone might have said to the PM, don’t let the voters down by breaking your carbon tax promise. If you lose their trust, getting it back will be near impossible.

Cross-functional alignment happens when all parts of an operation are closely integrated, information is shared and collaboration creates opportunities for great success.

On the role of relationships, happy businesses are productive businesses. One of the best airlines in the world, Southwest Airlines, was famous for implementing its happiness program, which substantially helped the bottom line.

Personally, I can’t rate Ms Gillard’s candour, productive confrontation, nor her reinforcement qualities, but I suspect they all could do with a bit of work given her recent popularity ratings.

There are incidents that define leaders’ relationships with their followers. For George W. Bush, his leadership performance was a good one at the World Trade Centre on September 11, 2001. Then there was a bad one with Hurricane Katrina.

I suspect the PM’s bad one was “the lie”. We’re now waiting for the good one and maybe so are her colleagues.

Important information: This content has been prepared without taking account of the objectives, financial situation or needs of any particular individual. It does not constitute formal advice. For this reason, any individual should, before acting, consider the appropriateness of the information, having regard to the individual’s objectives, financial situation and needs and, if necessary, seek appropriate professional advice.

Published on: Monday, March 05, 2012

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