Building Our Tower
“Communication is the exchange of thoughts and ideas between two or more people.”
David Garic put this on a projector in a large meeting room to a group of young leaders years ago. He couldn’t be the first to utter those words, but it was the first time I had seen it and the first time I heard it.
Most of the people (including myself) did not truly understand the purpose and drive behind that statement. I took it as a speaker pointing a definition on the board to cover a topic. I sat quietly at my seat looking at the words and dismissing them as simplistic fill. Come to find out this is one of the most impactful statements in leadership. So much that I still see it on a mental projector screen when facing my own communication failures.
I originally thought of communication as two or more people talking. This could be brought back to a biblical story of the Tower of Babel. In a short, condensed version (aka Cliffs Notes) after the great flood, the people found a land called Shinar and built a town and a tower that was meant to reach heaven. God was not happy with this and confused their languages so they could not communicate. This stopped the tower from being built and is how the different languages were constructed.
It wasn’t that a tower couldn’t be built without language. I can point to a brick, point to mortar, demonstrate how to do it and poke you in the chest and point to the wall. I think this would get you on the path of laying brick. But without communication, we can only demonstrate and demand. We cannot discuss problems, collaborate on new ideas, challenges, and opportunities. The idea of the wall could only be seen by the architect and not the builders.
In our business, the leaders are the architects and our crew are the builders. Our job is to teach, train, correct and construct the builders and not the wall. This is where communication comes into play. We must have a clear and concise language that is not confusing and allows everyone to collaborate to build our towers, also known as our business. My demonstration of showing and pointing was a simplistic and archaic display or management. Sadly, this is seen in our daily routines at work and home. Leadership communicates and exchanges thoughts and ideas with each other so we can as a team build.
The failure is usually visible at the termination of employment where an employee is finally told they are not doing the job well enough to get paid anymore, or the employee tells the job that the pay is not worth the job. In most cases this can be traced back to the constant poking in the chest and pointing to the wall. Instead of communication, we dictate and demand. While this may have worked in past generations and a small segment of dominant trait employees, this does not work in today’s workforce. Our potential new leaders are information hungry and team centric (you may call them millennials or these young people). In reality they are the ones who can understand processes, technology and teamwork better than we ever have. We just fail to communicate to them effectively to motivate them to build our tower.
Examples to Follow
The process is like this: Start with why, explain what success looks like, identify their contribution, encourage questions and conflict, assign and follow up.
A conversation with a hypothetical employee might go like this: “Justin, we would like to ensure our customer has the best impression when pulling into the shop. This starts with what they notice in front of the shop. We would like the customer to see a nice garden with beautiful flowers that display our attention to detail. You have been one that has consistently shown attention to detail and creativity which is why I am talking to you about this. We have a budget of $150 to do this and I would leave the creativity up to you, and in the end we want it to display our pride of detail. Do you have any questions? What would cause you not to be successful? I would like this to get done by the end of next week, can you do this? Great, I will follow up with you a few times and let’s meet when the project is done."
Although this is a simple task the steps are laid out to encourage thoughts and ideas between two or more people. When we communicate we can achieve great things. And the Lord said, "Behold, the people are one, and they have all one language; and this they begin to do. And now nothing will be restrained from them, which they have imagined to do." Genesis 11:6.