Sharing Information to Your Advantage
Your leadership style plays a big role in how you communicate. Authoritative, commanding and pace-setting leadership styles, as defined by Daniel Goleman, are much less likely to communicate as much information with their team as democratic, affiliative or pace-setting leaders. But regardless of your leadership style, many of the members of the team you lead may NEED more communication from you in order to truly buy in to your vision and embrace the goals you've established. It may not suit YOU personally to share information with your team or take time to explain the bigger picture, but it may behoove you and pay off in the long run for you, as a great leader, to do an analysis of the members of your team and determine if sharing more information would prove beneficial and result in increased productivity.
An authoritative leadership style may suit many members of your team. Perhaps they do function better when they are just told what to do and not given any explanation or reason. If, however, you have personality types on your team who are highly collaborative, visionary or creative, it may benefit you to share more of the reasons behind the established goals or deadlines to help them understand the direction their work is taking the organization. Understanding the personalities on your team will help you determine which types of information to share and when and with whom to share it. If it's true that the strength of the team is impacted by it's weakest link, then it will benefit you as a leader to understand that if one of your team members has a high-value on communication, it's wise to be mindful of that.
So what might be some signs that your team would benefit from more information from you? Is your team infected by distrust, gossip, ambivalence? These are problems in and of themselves, but they may be symptoms of a lack of adequate information sharing on your part as a leader.
In his insightful book, 'The 17 Indisputable Laws of Teamwork,' John C. Maxwell devotes a section to communication. He uses the example of Gordon Bethune using communication to change the corporate culture and, ultimately, turn a failing Continental Airlines around. "A company that had been characterized by distrust and lack of cooperation became a place where communication was pervasive." Do you see the link? Lack of communication created a culture of distrust throughout the whole organization. According to Maxwell, Bethune was diligen about management meeting with employees regularly, frequently and openly. In fact, Bethune's philosophy was, "Unless it's dangerous or illegal for us to share it, we share it."
Direct information from leadership can quell the ever-looming beast of gossip as well. If your team is getting their information from you, and they feel that there is honest disclosure on your part, they are much less likely to engage in gossip or speculative talk around the water cooler. Disseminating information directly also reduces the chances of misunderstandings which can lead to loss of time and perhaps even resources.
Your approach may not need to be as direct or extreme as the approach Bethune took at Continental, but as a leader, it may be beneficial for you to determine which of your team memebers, if any, may need more information from you in order to increase their productivity and output. Great leaders understand that when they make exceptions and conciliations to accommodate the personality types of their team members, in the long run, it usually benefits the whole organization.