The United States is more diverse than ever. We are fortunate to have such a wide cultural array of people, customs, foods, and languages. This picture of uniqueness and many differences bring great beauty to our world. It also brings challenges which if left unaddressed become the levers which pry us apart into small factions.
Our businesses are simply small versions of the society around us. As leaders we need to stop and listen to the vibrations, noise and murmur that fills the halls and rooms of our organizations. These sounds are like voices which when listened to can bring great understanding to the future success of your business.
When we stop initially to listen, the sounds will begin to clutter our minds. It will be like we are seated in the middle of a group of nations all talking at the same time in their native tongue. Each and every sound will be its own language because we as leaders have not taken the time to learn the languages of our team.
Early in the industrial age as people migrated to the world of the “Job” from the tilling of the land language was changing. On one hand the person from the rural area was actually losing the opportunity to use their language and voice as the industrial setting was dictating the absence of language. This gave way to such phrases as “My way or the highway.” In other words – you will do as I say, (one language) or you can go back to the farm. By compartmentalizing work activities, it also reduced the language needed to communicate. As good as this might have been for ushering in the industrial age it ultimately has circled back 360 degrees to inhibit teams to have a voice and language. To the extent that even if the voices are good it was discounted.
In today’s business landscape it is crucial for leaders to take the lid off language. Maybe it would be better to say remove the barriers to letting your team have a voice. The world is complex whether we like it or not. If we as leaders are going to be at our best so our people can be at their best, then we need to be the first to encourage voice and language. There will be differences in the language. I’m still trying to figure out just some of the text slang which shows up on my smartphone and I must ask what does this or that mean or imply. But in the end, I’m better for it and now have another language to listen for, to hear the sounds of organizations.
I also think it important though to not just open up Pandora’s Box of language. This would be likely the beginning of and rather painful language discussion. Leaders need to allow for open communincation, voice and language but it needs to be filtered or framed within the organizations purpose, core values and structures. It is not the intent to have language be the loose cannon spewing words of all nature in the marketplace, but we absolutely want the sound and vibrations of language to have a place within the culture of the organization.
This week stop and give a listen to the voices and language or your organization. Begin to sort out the languages you know and don’t know. Invest in yourself to become not just acquainted with the languages you are not familiar with but to dive deeper into and listen to the nuances of those languages; for within them you will find nuggets of gold.
Your Promise Guide at JKL Associates is ready to help translate your languages into a common descriptive dialoging machine. Give us a call at MI (313) 527-7945 or FL (407) 984-7246.