How do you create a culture of openness so everyone feels they can share their ideas? How do you make sure that team members offer up their top-notch suggestions and not hold back for fear of being belittled? The success of our leadership depends on our ability to foster an inviting environment so every person actively participates and wants to be part of fulfilling the team goals and vision. We want our followers to be present and perform.
In this weekend’s New York Times article, there was an interview with Robin Domeniconi, senior vice president for Elle Group who shared her wisdom on creating a culture of transparency. She explained, “You can say anything to anyone, as long as you say it the right way.” Wow! What a wonderful concept. She actually gave this interaction a name: MRI- most respectful interpretation. Teams need to have MRI. And where does one learn MRI? Most definitely it is the leader who models this way of communication and encourages their team to communicate the same way.
Here are my strategies for leaders to create MRI:
- When interacting with others use positive language. An easy way to do this is to use the word “and” instead of the word “but”. It also shows that you lead with inclusion.
- Avoid blame and instead try to cultivate ways to find a mutual solution. It is so easy to accuse a team member of doing the wrong thing. By reframing you could find out what caused the mistake and how together it can be fixed.
- Take the time to praise those around you. To say: “I am impressed how you handled that difficult situation” goes a far way. People want to feel valued and given the appropriate credit for a job well done.
- Use “I” messages in your statements so that you take full responsibility for what comes out of your mouth. Instead of saying, “Your idea is not good”, you might say, “I think we are moving in a different direction so let’s see how we might explore your suggestion in that way.”
- Be sincere in the way you lead. People can spot a “fake” agenda very quickly.
- Be honest when you make a mistake. When the team sees that a leader can admit to failure, vulnerability is created which in turn leads to an environment of trust.
It is up to you to create your dream culture of transparency and clear, honest and direct communication. It is in your hands, leaders, so give it a try!
What would your dream culture look like? How would you go about achieving it? What are the most important elements to making your team work together well?